As far as Swiss Army moves go, thread the needle is top-tier. Whether you’re warming up for an upper-body workout, flowing through a couple of stretches on your lunch break, or decompressing post-HIIT session, it’s a great way to mobilize and stretch your entire back body. But the question is: Are you doing it correctly?
“[Thread the needle] is a great stretch for your upper back and your shoulders,” says Chloe de Winter, founder of Go Chlo Pilates, on this week’s episode of The Right Way. Thread the needle involves coming down to your hands and knees and—you guessed it!—threading one arm beneath your chest to release tension in your spine, neck, and shoulders. It’s a juicy stretch, but according to de Winter, there are a few common mistakes to avoid here.
According to her, the biggest issue she sees is a lack of control in performing the movement pattern. For example, you may come to kneeling and then swing your arm open, leaving yourself open to hurting your neck or straining your back. Instead, says de Winter, this movement should be intentional and slow: You’ll reach one arm up, then slowly tuck it under your chest before placing your ear against the ground.
“Another mistake that I see a lot is the head and neck not following the movement,” says de Winter. Again, in this case, you’re making your neck vulnerable by not keeping it in line with the rest of your spine. Instead, make sure your gaze follows your fingertips as you reach up to the sky and then tuck your arm beneath your chest.
Now that you know the two most common mistakes people make with this move, you’re ready to do it the right way. Make sure you watch the full video with de Winter to learn the ins and outs of this exercise. Happy shoulder stretching.